Local Physics Teacher Alliances
The problems high school physics teachers experience are well known. More than a third of the teachers responding to the 1993 AIP nationwide survey felt that insufficient funding for equipment and supplies was a serious problem.1 More than a quarter felt that their schools had inadequate laboratory facilities. Relatively few teachers can expect to concentrate primarily on teaching physics. Furthermore, high school physics teachers are isolated; in the vast majority of schools, only one person teaches physics.
The responsibilities of teaching other courses, the lack of opportunity for professional development, and the sense of isolation all make the task of implementing curriculum reform extremely difficult for an individual teacher.
Physics teachers can increase their effectiveness by forming local alliances. Many teachers have done so; more than 150 local physics alliances exist, most of them newly formed. The advantages for high school teachers to be members of a local physics alliance include the following.
sharing ideas: you can exchange ideas that work in the classroom, upgrade your knowledge of physics, discuss common concerns, become informed of workshops, and keep abreast of current efforts in curriculum reform.
empowerment: as a group, you are more likely to get a hearing when you solicit the support of school districts, local businesses, and foundations. A group with a well-reasoned proposal for, say, implementing a program using dedicated classroom computers is harder to ignore than is an individual.
links with community colleges and universities: you can arrange for graduate/continuing education courses taught at convenient times, summer research opportunities, Internet accounts, or a permanent meeting place for your group.
community outreach: as a group you can more effectively work with school or community groups to provide informational activities or enrichment opportunities to better serve the needs of your students.
The Modeling Workshop Project staff are committed to promoting the formation of alliances among high school physics teachers. We can help these alliances connect with local college/university faculty willing to form partnerships with the common goal of improving physics teaching. We are willing also to assist those soliciting support from business and industries for the infusion of computer technology in the high schools.
Please share this document with your colleagues. For further information, contact Jane Jackson, Project Director; Box 871504, Dept. of Physics, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-1504.
e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. Our webpage is http://modeling.asu.edu/.